Is ‘forbidden’ great or just appealing?


IMDb 250I’m currently working my way through the IMDb Top 250, a user-voted list of the best 250 movies of all time. So far I’ve watched 86, so I’m about a third of the way through. Now it’s getting more difficult – not because these films are hard to find, but because the subject of so many of these movies are violence, sex, murder, crime, etc.

I’m not just meaning they deal with these issues. Schindler’s List (#8 on the Top 250) deals with terrible violence, but it doesn’t glorify like so many of the others do. I’m talking about films like Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, Se7en and Silence of the Lambs – all of which are within the top 25. I haven’t seen any of these yet, so I can’t comment on their qualities as a film. But it’s slightly worrying when around one-third of the greatest films ever seem obsessed with what we would normally call ‘evil’.


A scene from ‘Se7en’, with Kevin Spacey as a psychopathic murderer.

And so I have an hypothesis: we ‘love’ these films so much because they let us escape into a world where we can indulge in our ‘evil’ without any consequences. I do believe that part of the power of films is that we can ‘escape’ into them; we forget our real world for a while and become immersed in what we’re watching. We can ‘be’ a murderer, a mobster, a violent psychopath, and then return to our lives without anyone being any the wiser.

Hannibal the Cannibal, from Silence of the Lambs

Hannibal the Cannibal, from Silence of the Lambs

Films can be a wonderful, beautiful thing. They can also be a dangerous escape into our wildest fantasies. Though watching these films probably won’t make us into violent psychopaths, it will affect you. Films are, essentially, a mild form of indoctrination.

So are these ‘great’ films really great? Or do we have an unhealthy fascination with the forbidden?


3 thoughts on “Is ‘forbidden’ great or just appealing?

  1. Very true, randomblogger, I hadn’t noticed that. But is that because American culture has a tendency for the ‘psycho’, or is it that America is the big, fat base of the current film industry and so these films just happen to come from there? It could be a mix of both…
    And that is a great list. But something I often notice (and one of the reasons why I still like the IMDb 250) is that many ‘greatest film’ lists only have older films on them. Though I agree that many classics are classics for a reason, I disagree that films aren’t great these days.

    1. Rarely do we witness young winners of the Nobel Prize. Why? Because their propositions are new and haven’t stood the test of time. When they still hold true after a few decades, then we can agree that they have contributed to science. Like science like movies. And you might have also noticed that some movies, right after their release surged into the list, but after a month or so fell behind quite a few ranks or sometimes went out of the list. Another thing is that, the voters are just ordinary people, who’ll be happy with just a decent story and some pretty actors. They don’t (because they’re not interested) look into the finer details and the many symbolic aspects easily escape their eyes. And they are given the power to vote, to elect the “greatest 250 movies”. What do you expect the list to be? I can go on and on about this, but it is not appropriate that I talk about it as comments.

      Oh and about America, I’m too young to comment more about that. It might just be my prejudice. No more comment, and please don’t try to make me. haha

      If you’re interested we can have a little chat about movies. My mail id is given in my blog.

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